“There is no such thing as ‘a long time ago’. There are only memories that mean something and memories that don’t.” Sylvester Stallone – This Is Us
Isn’t it interesting how a memory can pop up and suddenly we are right back where we experienced that “thing” in the first place? Many studies on memory have shown that it is a bit elusive at best. Yes, we can memorise things. But when it comes to remembering details of events those details become cloudy with time, especially if they did not mean that much to us at the time of the event. I am reputed to have an excellent memory, to the point where at times I can actually quote dates, times, events, what people said, how they looked, what they wore and so on. But I have personally noticed that it works best when I can network it with other memories. So if I took the dog to the vet on Friday and then Saturday afternoon something happened and 2 years later I am asked about that event, I would also be remembering the dog at the vet in relation to the time factor of the event. From there I would go through the evening and into the morning of Saturday, what I was doing and who I was seeing and then get to Saturday afternoon’s event and recall with crystal clarity. This can all take a matter of a minute. It gets exhausting how people react to that at times. I think that they are freaked out by my saying things like, “And you were wearing that paisley blouse with red and aqua blue, your tourmaline earrings, an onyx pendant on a silver chain, red nail polish and that turquoise ring that your boyfriend gave you the week before…”
The thing is, if it did not matter to me I won’t necessarily recall the fine details, if I recall anything at all. It has to matter to me in some way. So if I have forgotten something, you can pretty much guage how important that thing actually was to me. One of my daughters is like that as well. She has a delightful habit of saying things like, “Ya well, that really didn’t mean anything to me so…whatever.” Sometimes our children can be so much like ourselves that we are proud and terrified simultaneously.
Sometimes we are haunted by things that happened a long time ago. When we don’t work on healing our experiences we will naturally be haunted by them. That is not to say that we have to forget them. On the contrary. If they are important we must remember them. However, that haunting of memories is our mind’s way of telling us that healing work is needing to get done. Perhaps the memory is of a traumatic event. Heal it. Perhaps it is of the loss of a loved one to death. Heal that as well. Healing it does not mean to magically snap your fingers and it is suddenly done. It can take a long time to heal. That is alright. We need not be in a race about it. In fact. much of post traumatic stress disorder will stay with us for years before we actually manage the perfect combination of healing modalities to assist us.
I remember when I was a child I heard my mom talk about a woman that we knew who woke up in the middle of the night screaming in pain. Then she dropped dead right there beside her husband. Turned out that she had an embolism in the middle of the night. Another acquaintance woke up to find that her husband had died while sleeping beside her…at the age of 35…from a heart attack. Now, when hearing about these types of events, the thing that went through my mind was, “God…I sure hope that I never have to wake up beside my partner to find them dead beside me…that would be CREEPY.” Years later that is pretty much what happened. Now, because this mattered to me I will likely never forget it. But the trauma of the event has, over the last 4 years, been continuously healing. It no longer is a memory that brings me stress or terror or deep soul sorrow. It is now a memory that is important but does not have the same emotional impact. The same can be said for many other experiences that I have had over the many years of my life. It is not that time heals anything really. It is that with time we have the energy to put the effort into doing the healing work. And yes, it can be a LOT of work. But if we try to avoid doing that healing work we will inevitably be haunted. If we never do that work we will be haunted till the day we die…and perhaps beyond.
Fortunately, the way memory works, we can also access the amazing and happy times of our lives with a simple memory. Things that bring a smile to our face or a chuckle from our bellies. The more important the memory is, the easier it is to access them at various times. Some even use the good memories to help get them through difficult moments. For example, when I was a kid I used to love building sand castles. To this day, when I find myself stressed over something, I will go into the memory of building sand castles on the beach. I feel myself going into relaxation and calm right away. I am also aware that, although I do enjoy driving, I do not like the way many other drivers put other people’s lives at risk on a daily basis. It was getting so that I would enjoy getting behind the wheel and by the time I arrived at the destination I was a tight ball of nerves. So I decided to use my body memory to conquer this. It has absolutely NO EFFECT on other drivers. It has profound effects on my well being. So whenever I reach a red light, instead of keeping my hands on the steering wheel, I drop my hands to my lap. This immediately places me into a calm space. Then it really doesn’t matter what happens along the way. From that place of calm I will deal with whatever I encounter along the way once that light turns green. While my hands are on my lap my breathing changes to slow and deep…naturally. It is not like I am forcing that. My mind clears and I am then able to proceed from a much better place within. The funny thing is that, in using this practice, even if I leave a bit late for my destination I usually arrive there early…without speeding or forcing anything along the way. I look forward to the red lights as a short break from the hustle and bustle of the traffic flow. Where most are likely angry at having to stop yet again, I look forward to it. And then when the green light comes I have already placed myself in the mental state of being very clear minded and respond to the traffic with ease.
Whether it is body memory or memory recall from the past, those memories have purpose. They can at times sustain us. They can direct us to where our healing needs to be focused. They can also serve to keep the memory of a loved one who has passed in our hearts forever. If it is important in any way, it will be there for us, bridging all time and space.